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Shortcuts to Getting a YES from Your Customers

Most brand builders realize that your brand is so much more than just your logo and your advertising. It’s everything from the way you answer the phone to the way you send out your invoices. And research has shown that the experience people have with you and the messaging they receive can greatly impact their likelihood to say YES to your products and services. So today, we are going to dive into a fascinating book by Dr. Robert Cialdini called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

Cialdini’s research shows that the secret of persuasion doesn’t lie in the message itself, but in the key moment before the message is delivered. Think of it as “pre-suasion” – changing their initial state of mind before making a request. So, understanding this science can help you influence your customers and guide their thinking toward a YES response. Cialdini brings up that while it’s easy to assume that consumers use all the available information to guide their decision making, the reality is that they often don’t. Most people want a shortcut, and his research has identified six of these shortcuts as universals that guide human behavior.

For this blog post, we’re going to cover four of the most relevant shortcuts for brand builders:

Shortcut #1: Reciprocity

People are obliged to give back the favor or service you give to them. In other words, if you do someone a favor, they feel like they owe you a favor back.

Real Life Application: In a case study for the restaurant industry, studies showed that servers who left an extra mint for their customers before they paid received 15% higher tips. But what was really interesting is that the servers who left a single mint, started to walk away, then paused to turn back and leave a second mint saying “an extra something for my favorite customers,” received 23% higher tips!

Shortcut #2: Scarcity

People want products in short supply. Simply talking about the benefits of your products or services is not enough. It’s also important to point out what is unique, and what they stand to lose if they fail to say yes.

Real life application – If you’re a retail boutique posting a pair of shoes on your Instagram profile, let people know you only have three pairs left in stock. Letting people know you sell cute shoes is one thing, but letting them know that only three people can have this exact pair of shoes creates scarcity and ultimately makes customers more likely to act.

Shortcut #3: Authority

People honor the credible, knowledgeable experts. For example, doctors who display their certifications on the wall get better compliance from their patients when asking them to modify their lifestyle. It’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible authority, but since you can’t brag about yourself, you should arrange for someone else to do it for you.

Real life application – In a case study for the real estate industry, one brokerage trained their receptionist to speak highly of the realtors they were transferring calls to. And they were able to increase their listings and appraisals significantly, with a 20% rise in appointments being scheduled and a 15% increase in signed listing contracts.

Shortcut #4: Liking

Consumers prefer to do business with people they view as being similar to themselves, as well as people who pay them compliments and cooperate with them toward mutual goals. Little changes like saying “we” instead of “I” and referring to the customer by name can make a big difference.

Real life application – In a case study of MBA students who were tasked with closing a deal, the students were separated into two groups. The first group was told that time is money and they needed to get right down to business. In that group, 55% of students were able to come to a deal. In the second group, the students were instructed to get to know the person they were negotiating with and to find something in common with them before they began the negotiations. In that group, 90% of students were able to come to a deal. It’s worth the time to get to know your customers on a personal level and to make sure they view you as an ally.

These are just four of the six principles spelled out by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book. If you’re more of a visual learner, there is also a great white board video on YouTube you can watch, and it makes a great training tool to share with the rest of your team!


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